From the novel and film of the same name, an impossibly difficult choice, especially when forced onto someone. The choice is between two unbearable options, and it's essentially a no-win
"Sophie's Choice" is centered on a scene in Auschwitz
where Sophie has just arrived with her ten-year old son and her seven-year old daughter and a sadistic
doctor, presumably Doctor Mengele
, tells her that she can only bring one of her children; one will be allowed to live while the other is to be killed.
As a mother, Sophie adores both of her children and can't make this agonizing choice... until several soldiers force her and she hastily gives her daughter to them, sobbing as they take her little girl away.
A choice between two unbearable options.
The loan hiker's arm was wedged in a crevice when he slipped and fell. He didn't have the strength to release himself. Each movement wedged his arm more deeply into the crevice. After several days without food and water, he was left with a Sophie's Choice: continue to wait for help and possibly die, or use the serrated blade of his pocket knife to cut off his own arm and climb to safety before bleeding to death.
It is NOT a difficult choice. It's a choice between two options that will results in the destruction of the option not chosen. A difficult choice is just called a difficult choice, IT HAS NO NAME because it doesn't deserve one for the dramatic effect.
A difficult choice is do you pick lover A or lover B and leave the other one possibly mad at you. A Sophie's choice is do you pick A or B and leave the other one DEAD, completely lifeless, future distinguished, no more fun experiences, and generally a bad existence (or lack thereof).
A hard decision
"If I have to choose between her and Tyra, it's not exactly sophie's choice"